With unquestioned expertise in the world of commercial headsets, Plantronics is now a player in the sports headphones and earbuds market. The BackBeat FIT 500 wireless on-ear sports headphones is one of their of their current premium products.
Here is our World Exclusive look at what we found to amount to an excellent training accessory to keep you motivated with music during your choice of workout.
Here are the key specifications of the BackBeat FIT 500 from Plantronics.
- Up to 18 hours of battery life
- On-ear controls
- Protection against sweat via P2i military grade nano coating
- Comfortable memory foam ear cushions help isolate sound, while on-ear controls provide easy access for calls and music
- 40 mm drivers and a bass tube design for deep, rich sound
- Streaming up to 10 m/33 ft. from compatible smartphones and tablets with Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.
- Ear cups that rotate to lay flat for compact storage in a bag or backpack.
- DeepSleep hibernation mode helps maintain battery charge for up to six months when your headphones are out of range or left on.
- A 3.5 mm jack and included analog cable that can be plugged in as backup without disrupting your listening experience.
- The ability to connect up to two devices simultaneously and pair up to a total of eight devices.
What’s in the Box?
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 wireless on-ear headphones are packaged with a set of essentials. A micro USB charging cable, analog jack (for those inevitable times when you forget to charge the headphones) and a carrying case accompanying the set in its good-looking packaging. There are also some basic printed instructions that tell you how to quickly setup the unit. They’re a nice to have but really unnecessary if you’ve ever used a pair of Bluetooth-compatible wearables before.
Plantronics designs have done a stellar job with the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500. The unit combines a classy, high-end look with essential wireless headphone functionality.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 unit that we tested is mainly black with a clever gradient effect on its headband that fades to light gray. The branding on it is minimal with a barely noticeable “PLT” graphic on the left side of the headband, an orange tag on the right, and an indented logo on the outside of the right headphone.
The unit’s headphones have a low key black matte finish on the outside and soft, well-cushioned faux leather padding made of memory foam on the other. The letter “L” and “R” appear on the inside of the headphones to let you know how the wear the set correctly. It is coated with P2i which we found to protect water from a shower from having any type of effect on the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500.
The left headphone is all about sound and contains the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500’s volume control and play / pause, previous track and next track controls. The track controls are on a rubberized area to make them easy to touch and to be able to withstand moisture from sweaty hands. The right headphone has controls to power the headset on an off and to manage calls.
The result is an eye-catching wireless on-ear headphone set that looks and works like a product that costs hundreds of dollars more than it is. We had several acquaintances at the gym ask about the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 and state that it looked “very expensive”.
Setting up the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500
Setting up the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 is fairly effortless if you’ve ever used a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds before. It’s simply a matter of having Bluetooth enabled on your phone and powering on the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500. Both an iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy 9 instantly say the headphones and showed it in their lists of available Bluetooth devices that we could pair with. It was then just a matter of selecting the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 from the lists shown and we were ready to enjoy music and make or take phone calls with it. All three activities worked without any issue from the time that we first paired the BackBeat FIT with our phones.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 has a superbly comfortable fit thanks to a high level of padding on each headphone and on the underside of its headband. The left and right headphones can each be pulled down roughly an inch and a half from the main headband unit for customized fits based on head size and looseness preferences.
We also noticed that the BackBeat FIT 500 is a wider fitting product that does not hug the head tightly. This is a nice value add for comfort while working out, running or even doing drills for your sport of choice. It also enables you to wear the headphones at a backward angle and not fully vertically if you prefer. Great for the DJ cool factor or choice if you’re less in tune with the look of a corporate office drone while working out.
A wonderful fit-related feature of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 is that that the headphones rotate a full 90 degrees to lay flat. This is fantastic for wearing them around your neck when not in use with them laid flat for comfort.
Since the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 headphones do cover move of the ear we did encounter some sweat buildup under the memory foam ear cushions during strenuous workouts. Our solution for this issue was to raise them up and dry off our ears and the cushions. It is unavailable, however, given the nature and coverage of headphones in general and is the cost of enjoying sound quality beyond what earbuds can provide.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 offers crisp, immersive sound that one would expect from a pair of headphones well above its price point.
High and mid frequencies are delivered in an extremely clean manner while lows (bass) come across with good thump. This sound quality was the same across a variety of streaming platforms including iHeartRadio, Spotify and Pandora. It did seem improved (as one might expect) for mp3 and mp4 files stored on our phones.
The headphones do a fantastic job of locking in the sound delivered by the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500. Once on the head there is no leakage and even someone standing next to you would not be able to hear what your listening too. Not much is heard when you have them off either.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 gets quite loud when its volume is all the way up (you hear a “Volume Maximum” notice). While this is great for drowning out everything around you to focus on your favorite workout jams, we do not recommend using it at a 100% loudness level. We found that doing so caused some discomfort in the ears afterwards in a manner similar to what a music concert or nightclub might. Common sense would dictate practicing some self-control and not going above 80% of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500’s loudness capacity.
The microphone on the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 works well for both incoming and outgoing phone calls. It transmits sound as well as a mobile phone’s built-in microphone despite it being unseen and located away from the mouth. People that we were talking to on the phone while using the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 said that they could tell no difference between when we were using the headphones and when we were not. This included for HD calls.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 is a pair of headphones that seemingly never lose a charge. Plantronics says that it carries up to 18 hours of battery life. We found this to be an accurate claim. We used the FIT 500 for 12 hours of workouts and at least another 4 of commuting before it ran out of charge. This is the longest that we have ever seen a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds last before requiring a recharge.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 does have a good battery level indicator mechanism. Upon powering it on you will hear a women’s voice say “Battery High”, “Battery Medium” or “Battery Low”. The “Battery Low” warning is repeated about every 15 minutes when there is only an hour of charge left. Just before the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 runs out of energy the unit says, “Recharge Now”. Plug it in for 90 minutes and you’re back to a 100% charge again.
The range of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 has never been anything for us to worry about. We’ve been at least 50 feet away from our phone with a full floor of metallic gym equipment and people in between. We encountered no degradation in sound quality or breaks in our music through the BackBeat FIT 500 along the way.
Plantronics says the range of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 is 33 feet (10 meters). This is an understatement based on what we’ve experienced.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 is a well-manufactured, high quality product that we expect to last for some time. We’ve subjected it to a fair share of gym and training activity (including in the rain). Yet it looks and performs as well as it did when we first unboxed it over two weeks ago. The setup should remain fully intact as long as you do not purposely try to break the plastic headband on it with brute force.
Plantronics has done an excellent job once again with the BackBeat FIT 500. It is a high quality, technologically advance, sturdy pain of headphones that will suit gym rats, audiophiles and anyone in between well. At an MSRP of just $99.99 US it is an absolute steal in the genre of wireless sports headphones and earbuds.